East of Paris Bookstore

Friday, April 30, 2010

Hotel Security

World travel involves various security issues.  In the US, the currently most inconvenient thing is having to take off your shoes when crossing through airport security.   At least in Frankfurt, the security guy looks at your shoes and waives you through; you still have to take off your jacket.  As for laptops -- sometimes they make you take it out of the carry-on bag, sometimes not.  Then, the other day, we were asked if we had liquids in our carry-on.  Yes, we had 2 bottles of water from the plane.  The security man took one bottle and seemed willing to let me through with the other one.  I took pity on the rules and gave him the second bottle too.   Made me feel soo safe!!!

Until of course we got to our Almaty hotel.  Our fancy Range Rover had to stop at the security gate at the street entrance.  At guard hearing a yellow-greenish fluorescent vest over his uniform stepped out of the gate house with a mirror attached to a probe which he swept under the vehicle – looking for ??? – before letting us through.  [The last time my vehicle was mirror checked for explosives was at the entry to the parking lot at the US Embassy in Pristina.] Then, upon emerging from the slowing rotating hotel entry door with smiles all around, we passed through a metal detector.   The fact that I set off the alarm by not putting my purse on the faux empire table to the side of the metal detector seemed not to matter.  Same thing at our hotels in Bishkek and Tashkent.  In contrast, the Asia hotel in Samarqand has no visible security.

It reminded me of a similar entry procedure at the Eurpopa Hotel in St. Petersburg years ago, when Madeleine Albright was still Secretary of State and was staying at the hotel.  Security was similarly hardwared but casual -- we usually chose to ignore and walk around the metal detector.  For better or worse, she survived and so did we.  

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